Published: October 2, 2014
By: John Van Horn
My morning email brought two subjects to the fore. One, by Colleen Niese spoke about the need for having the right title for the position you are trying to fill and the other by Jeff Petry comparing parking to the magic of Harry Potter. Why would I compare and contrast these two topics.
Colleen argues, and I think successfully, that you need to strive to give positions in your company names that honestly and correctly describe the position. For instance, if you call a position a ‘sales director’ when it is actually a ‘sales manager’, you set expectations to the person seeking the position that the salary level and responsibilities are higher and more complex than reality, and in doing so, you waste considerable HR time weeding out those who may be overqualified or looking for something different than you have to offer. In other words, how about some honesty and reality here.
Jeff compares the parking industry to Harry Potter’s learning experience at Hogwarts’s and how a boy grew into a man able to use his wizardlike powers for good through leadership of a mentor, in this case, Dumbledore. He posits that much of the problem parking has particularly in the municipal setting is that it doesn’t have a mentor to lead the poor parking folks out of the forest and into the position of strength and leadership they deserve. We deserve a seat at the leadership table, and with some mentoring and legerdemain, we will have it.
Whereas Colleen is focused like a laser beam on a particular issue and offering specific solutions to specific problems, Jeff is using metaphor and perhaps an allegory to describe general solutions to broad problems.
I'm in the Colleen camp. The first thing you need to do to solve problems is describe them, break them down into solvable pieces, and then specifically attack each of those with rifle shot solutions. Generalities and broad brush comparisons are great when you are running for office, but they seldom make a bit of difference when it comes to actually doing anything.
The city of Los Angeles has described in its infinite wisdom six levels of condition for its streets. “A” being perfect and “F” being the most difficult to fix. I live on an “F” street. For 20 years we have been striving to get our streets fixed. We have worked with our politicians and they have talked about the greater good, and money being spent to repair other areas and the like. For two decades we have heard platitudes about working and striving to fix our vast problems.
We don’t have a vast problem. We have a specific problem with “F” Streets what one city councilman told me meant that we were “F***ed.” (He didn’t use asterisks.) We have reached the point where the only solution is to take a laser like approach, find the bureaucrat in city hall that assigned the classification, and get that “F” changed to a “D”. Sweep away all the generalities and fix the problem.
If you look at the successful parking programs, you will find that the folks have gone after the issues that affect parking in their organizations and determined solutions and then solved them. I’m sure the successes Jeff at the city of Eugene or Brandy Stanley in Las Vegas or Peter Lange at Texas A and M and leaders of other successful parking programs came more from solving specific problems than from a rod of wood embedded with magical substance.